The First 50 Pages Project
Heidi W. Durrow
Winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction - 2008
First lines: “You my lucky piece,” Grandma says. Grandma has walked me the half block from the hospital lobby to the bus stop. Her hand is wrapped around mine like a leash.
This book is the story of Rachel, an 11-year-old mixed-race girl who has just moved in with her grandmother and aunt in Portland after her mother and brother’s tragic deaths. The story is told in shifting perspectives, including Rachel; Laronne, her mother’s boss in Chicago; Jamie, a Chicago neighbor boy. In the first 50 pages, Rachel arrives at her grandmother’s house and begins school. Meanwhile her neighbor and her mother’s former boss try to make sense of what happened.
I do not feel like a lot happens in the first 50 pages. We meet Rachel and her family members and we see a bit of what her life was like before and what happened, but for me it just wasn't quite enough to pull me all the way in.
I give the beginning a 3.5. I think I will come back to it. I think the fact that it won the Bellwether Prize is actually a deterrent for me. I worry about being bludgeoned with its social conscience. I am still a little bruised from my last run-in with Barbara Kingsolver, and I don't know if Durrow has the writing chops to get away with it.